Bow’s wrestling championship was a year in the making

The Bow Falcons celebrate their Division III wrestling championship win at Bow High School on Sat. Feb. 17, 2024.

The Bow Falcons celebrate their Division III wrestling championship win at Bow High School on Sat. Feb. 17, 2024. Chip Griffin—Photos By Chip

Bow senior Adler Moura celebrates with coach Bill Chavanelle after winning the 113-pound championship on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024.

Bow senior Adler Moura celebrates with coach Bill Chavanelle after winning the 113-pound championship on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024. Chip Griffin—Photos By Chip

Bill Chavanelle was named the Division III coach of the year during the D-III state championships on Feb. 17, 2024.

Bill Chavanelle was named the Division III coach of the year during the D-III state championships on Feb. 17, 2024. Chip Griffin—Photos By Chip

By ERIC RYNSTON-LOBEL

Monitor staff

Published: 02-23-2024 8:32 AM

The preparation began the second the 2022-23 season ended. Bow’s wrestlers knew they could win a state championship, and they weren’t about to let the opportunity pass them by.

The Falcons finished second in last year’s Division III state championships under first-year coach Bill Chavanelle, and with most of their talent returning and the program continuing to expand, the 2023-24 season would be the prime opportunity to make a statement.

So last Saturday when Bow hoisted the NHIAA championship trophy in triumph, it was the culmination of a quest to rebuild the program that began as soon as Chavanelle took over.

Just a few years ago, the Falcons had only seven kids on the team. This year, the number ballooned to 28 thanks in large part to recruiting efforts from the wrestlers themselves. Chavanelle didn’t just want kids to come wrestle for a few months out of the year; he aimed to build a group that wanted to work together throughout the year, building toward a common goal.

They achieved that this season.

“I’m still in shock about it to be honest with you,” Chavanelle said. “It’s a very humbling experience to (go) from seven kids two, three years ago to now 28 kids overall. It’s absolutely insane, and they’re just great kids. I can’t say enough good things about our group as a whole. There’s not a bad apple in the bunch.”

Chavanelle loves to put the spotlight on his wrestlers, but he also received recognition during Saturday’s championship when he was named the D-III Coach of the Year.

“It’s always cool to be recognized by your peers,” he said. “So many of those coaches were coaching their respective teams back when I was competing. Even my old coach from Winnisquam, Tom Osmer, he’s still at Winnisquam, so to be recognized by my peers is truly an honorable badge I’m going to wear for quite a while.”

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In the state championships, senior Adler Moura (113 pounds), freshman Jaron Todisco Coulon (106), senior Joe McDowell (175) and junior Jackson Hall (215) each took home individual titles. Seniors Josiah Funches (157) and Ben McDowell (165) finished as runners-up. 

Moura was also named Outstanding Wrestler, and he and seven of his teammates advanced to the state Meet of Champions held at Bedford High School this Saturday morning. They will compete against top finishers from the D-I and D-II championships.

Moura has been with the program through the rebuild and once again headlined the program’s success all season. There’s no one else Chavanelle said he’d rather have leading the way both on and off the mats.

“I think I’ve said it a thousand times, he’s simply one of the best I've ever been around,” Chavanelle said. “From a coaching standpoint to a competitive standpoint, he’s just what you want kids to be. He’s just awesome in every single facet.”

Even though his time in the program is winding down, Moura’s made sure to make sure he leaves more than just his championship legacy behind.

“He mentioned a couple weeks ago as he’s on his way out of here that he wants to leave the things he learned not just from me but his club coaches and his youth coaches that he wants to pass down to those kids because I think he gets the big picture,” Chavanelle said. “That’s what lives on. The records are cool, the achievements are cool, but it’s what you pass down to the guys below you that makes a better impact.”

Those lessons will surely be valuable as the program moves forward. The Falcons aren’t satisfied with just a state title this year; they’re hoping to compete at the top of Division III for years to come.

That means maintaining the levels of focus, perseverance and tenacity that guided the way all season long.

“One common goal among everyone else was to get to this point,” Chavanelle said. “We know the type of kids and the guys that we have in the room to make it happen, so we just had to stay to a goal and commit to the goal, and the guys did that from last February all the way to this February.”